Trump sets completion date for border wall

President Donald Trump says he wants the border wall between Mexico and the United States finished by election day 2020.

Posted: Dec 27, 2018 8:47 AM
Updated: Dec 27, 2018 9:00 AM

In President Donald Trump's Christmas Day telling, the drugs are flowing over the border, the Federal Reserve is imperiling the economy and the Democrats are preparing to harass him with oversight requests.

"It's a disgrace, what's happening in our country," Trump fumed, seated behind the Resolute Desk on Tuesday, after decrying Democrats as hypocrites and recalling -- unprompted -- his firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

"But other than that," he said, his hands gesturing outward, "I wish everybody a very merry Christmas."

If most Americans were taking a break from their workplace woes on Christmas morning, the President was wallowing in them, even as he worked to project a festive demeanor amid a partial government shutdown and troubling economic news.

Celebrating the holiday at the White House instead of his Palm Beach estate, Trump used a phone call session with American troops to advance his case for a border wall, his isolationist foreign policy views and his insistence that his campaign did not collude with Russia.

Trump acknowledged the standoff with Democrats over funding for his long-promised border wall has no foreseeable end date.

"I can't tell you when the government is going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it," he said.

As uniformed servicemen were beamed into the Oval Office via satellite from US bases in Alaska, Bahrain, Guam and Qatar -- but not war zones like Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria -- Trump said he was pleased to see rich nations like Qatar -- "There are many, many ways of pronouncing it," Trump observed of the Gulf nation -- chipping in for regional security efforts.

"It will be nice when we can ask for a lot less money for our military," Trump said, without referring specifically to recent decisions to draw down troops in Syria and Afghanistan. "We're, right now, the policemen of the world and we're paying for it. And we can be the policemen of the world, but other countries have to help us."

And though he expressed confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who spooked investors on Monday by making public his calls with bank CEOs to check on their liquidity, Trump again faulted the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates too quickly, worrying investors and causing stocks to tumble. He insisted the market was ripe for buyers.

"I think it's a tremendous opportunity to buy," he said. "Really a great opportunity to buy."

Trump has spent the past several days cooped up in the White House, leaving only on Christmas Eve for an evening service at the National Cathedral. Originally planning to spend the holiday at Mar-a-Lago, Trump canceled the trip after the partial government shutdown went into effect.

He's the first president to spend Christmas at the White House in 18 years; the last was Bill Clinton in 2000. George W. Bush spent the holiday at Camp David during his eight years in office, while Barack Obama traveled to his native Hawaii.

"I love the White House, but I wasn't able to be with my family. I thought it would be wrong for me to be with my family, my family is in Florida, Palm Beach, and I just didn't want to go down and be there when other people are hurting," Trump explained on Tuesday -- speaking presumably about his adult children, since first lady Melania Trump returned to the White House on Monday to spend the holiday with him.

He claimed, without evidence, that federal employees on furlough or working without pay understand his demand for a border wall -- and support him in his mission.

"Many of those workers have said to me and communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall," he claimed, though didn't identify who the workers were.

He insisted in lengthy remarks the prolonged shutdown was the fault of Democrats, and repeated his demands a border barrier be funded before the government can reopen. In a sign the deadlock will continue, Trump announced he would travel to Texas in late January to observe part of the wall being built.

But he did not offer any new method of getting Democrats to sign off on funding, beyond saying he was always willing to meet with Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and the presumed incoming House speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Instead, he decried his political opponents as preparing for "presidential harassment" once they gain control of the House in January.

"We know how to handle that," Trump said. "I know how to handle that better than anybody."

Describing the opposing party as hypocrites for what he claimed was onetime support for a border wall, Trump transitioned sharply into a screed on Comey, who he fired early in his term.

"Everybody hated Comey, they thought he did a horrible job. The Democrats hated him. They were calling for his resignation. They were calling for his firing," Trump said. Some Democrats faulted Comey for his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. Later, Trump's firing of Comey was viewed by many Democrats as a way to short-circuit the FBI's investigation into Russian election meddling.

"Once I fired him, everybody said, 'Oh, why did you fire him, why did you fire him?'" Trump said, waving his hands in irritation.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 67649

Reported Deaths: 1912
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5613118
DeSoto365831
Harrison252036
Madison242266
Rankin228334
Jackson227642
Jones189958
Forrest180656
Washington166341
Lee146241
Lauderdale141292
Neshoba128692
Lamar122014
Oktibbeha112239
Bolivar111334
Warren109333
Lowndes107737
Panola105913
Sunflower103925
Scott100320
Lafayette97316
Copiah95428
Pike93636
Leflore93363
Holmes89248
Grenada84721
Yazoo83112
Pontotoc8278
Lincoln81741
Monroe79655
Simpson79630
Leake78825
Wayne76721
Coahoma76013
Tate73429
Marshall6959
Marion67720
Union63616
Adams62325
Winston62016
Covington61213
George5815
Pearl River55039
Newton54211
Tallahatchie53110
Attala52225
Walthall50220
Chickasaw46219
Noxubee45711
Alcorn4285
Calhoun4189
Tishomingo4175
Prentiss41210
Claiborne40713
Smith40513
Clay39614
Hancock39014
Jasper3869
Tippah36613
Itawamba35910
Tunica3377
Clarke32726
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29311
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25012
Perry2367
Webster23412
Kemper23314
Amite2326
Jefferson Davis2316
Wilkinson21213
Stone1995
Sharkey1975
Jefferson1967
Benton1441
Choctaw1344
Franklin1272
Issaquena261
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99390

Reported Deaths: 1733
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13109243
Mobile9947207
Montgomery6835148
Madison537834
Tuscaloosa421373
Unassigned359961
Baldwin354425
Shelby328335
Marshall316736
Lee267845
Morgan239318
Etowah212131
DeKalb181913
Calhoun178414
Elmore172338
Walker152664
Houston139812
Russell13682
St. Clair133817
Limestone133313
Dallas132323
Franklin127420
Cullman122512
Colbert118113
Autauga116921
Lauderdale116719
Escambia108217
Talladega102614
Jackson9894
Tallapoosa85579
Chambers84138
Dale83424
Blount8004
Chilton7926
Butler76436
Coffee7616
Covington73520
Pike7097
Clarke6629
Barbour5755
Marion57424
Lowndes57224
Marengo55215
Hale47626
Bullock46411
Winston45311
Perry4424
Bibb4385
Wilcox42910
Monroe4214
Randolph40110
Pickens4009
Conecuh39310
Washington39112
Sumter36018
Lawrence3491
Macon33514
Crenshaw3185
Choctaw28312
Cherokee2737
Henry2633
Geneva2611
Clay2585
Greene25111
Lamar2222
Fayette2075
Cleburne1271
Coosa1012
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